LEA Awards 2009 title

(In association with the Music Education Council,
the PRS Foundation and Jazz Services)



Two Major Trophy awards, two Diplomas of Special Merit, eight Diplomas of Merit. Grade inflation? Most certainly not. I have looked back at one of my reports of the mid-eighties and on the whole today’s LEA music service is delivering a better service than was the norm then. That is reflected in the volume of pupils and students in regular contact with the music service; the breadth of the genres covered, (for example, jazz and world musics are much more familiar strands within overall provision); curriculum support for classroom teachers and INSET and CPD opportunities for music service staffs are now the norm. The musical and social benefits to be had from playing with others seems to be more widely recognised and therefore more vigorously encouraged by music services. The evidence for that lies in the number of ensembles providing performance opportunities at school, district and authority-wide level (not forgetting la crème de la crème ensembles which also play abroad).

How has that come about? There is a small minority of LEAs in England which make a substantial and in kind contribution to music service funding. But the lifeline for the majority is the Government’s Music Standards Fund. On top of that there is funding for the Wider Opportunities Programme and the musical instrument fund. Thus without those specific grants-in-aid it would be difficult for many music services in England to survive. In Scotland the dependence on education authority support is much greater, for apart from the relatively small grants under the Youth Music Initiative (YMI), there is no other public funding. (The situation in Wales is even more problematic for there music services receive no specific funding from the Welsh Assembly Government (WAG)). Another factor in this heightened awareness of music’s power for good is undoubtedly England’s Music Manifesto. It has taken time for the important messages and supportive advice from Music Manifesto activists to percolate through to the grass roots, but there can’t now be many music education practitioners who have not benefited in some way from the doings of the Music Manifesto.  

The Awards Panel are keen as always to draw attention to the “Honourable Mentions” referred to in our report. It is important so to do for while they are all very worthy entries, among them are several which came very close to the award of a diploma.

Our continued association with the PRS Foundation for New Music and Jazz Services Ltd is very welcome, not least because it enables us to accord even wider recognition to demonstrable good music education practice. And without the very real practical support of the Federation of Music Services and the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, this scheme would not succeed; we are grateful to them.

Wisdom, good humour and patience remain the virtues which characterise my colleagues from the NMC and MEC on the Awards Panel. It is therefore right and proper for their names to appear in this record! So, very warm thanks on behalf of myself and the membership of the NMC and MEC, to Leonora Davies, Kathryn Deane, James Hannam, Ben Lane, Alok Nayak, Alistair Salmond, John Stephens, observer, John Witchell and especially our Administrator, Fiona Harvey on whom we depend most heavily!

And above all, our heartfelt thanks to the staffs of music services, schools and indeed all those responsible for making it possible for pupils and students of all ages to experience the joy of music-making.

Ivor Widdison
Chair, Awards Panel

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